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There are some parents who think the laws don’t apply to them. In child support cases, some parents need to learn the hard way (occasionally by spending time in jail) that their duty to provide for their children is a priority.

As we have explained, courts have a variety of options to ensure that a parent who is bound by a child support order either pays the order or faces serious consequences. Today, we wanted to explore the issue of enforcing child support orders.

How child support payments are made and enforced

Generally, the non-custodial parent is required to pay support through Child Support Services. Payments of support are usually made either directly to Child Support Services or through an income withholding agreement. The agency then distributes the support payment to the custodial spouse.

Some of these options for enforcing a child support order include wage garnishments and intercepting tax refunds. Additional options may include placing a lien on a parent’s home or business. The failure to pay child support can also include:

  • An order to an employer to deduct child support payments from the parent’s wages – even if that parent works in a different state.
  • Notifying credit agencies that the non-custodial parent is in default
  • Seizing personal property such as bank accounts to obtain past due payments
  • A skilled lawyer will also work with Child Support Services, when a non-custodial parent isn’t making payments, to withhold the support payments from the non-custodial parent’s:
    • Unemployment insurance benefits.
    • Worker’s compensation benefits
    • Social security benefits
    • Veteran’s disability benefits

Many times, just the threat of being held in contempt of court is enough to force the non-custodial to come up with the funds that are due. For some parents, a few days in jail sends the message that they better call everyone they know to pay the arrears – and they better start paying on a regular basis – on time.

Defending a contempt action

Contempt enforcement actions require a hearing. At the hearing, the non-custodial parent will be given a chance to explain why he/she is not making the payments. Judges are not in a rush to place parents in jail if something can be worked out. The judge will usually consider if the non-custodial parent:

  • Is making partial payments
  • Has a verifiable medical excuse
  • Has recently lost a job and is making a good-faith effort to find new work

Other logical and verifiable explanations may be considered.

If you are seeking to enforce a child support order or trying to avoid contempt of court for nonpayment, talk with an experienced Charlotte child support lawyer. The skilled family lawyers at Epperson Law Group, PLLC have helped numerous parents enforce and defend child support orders. To make an appointment in our Charlotte, Boone or Weddington office, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.


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